Saturday, 2 Dec 2023

Baby on a Budget – How to Prepare for a New Arrival on a Low Income

stork with baby girl

Baby on a Budget – How to Prepare for a New Arrival on a Low Income

When that second blue line appears the planning begins – but what do parents really need for a new baby? And how can they avoid spending more than they can afford?

As soon as a pregnancy is confirmed expectant parents are bombarded by advertising telling them about “must have” items for their baby. For couples who are on a limited budget (and even those who aren’t) the whole thing can feel like an overwhelming pressure to purchase. But before whipping out their credit cards the mothers and fathers-to-be would do well to consider what is really essential, and whether it can be borrowed or even begged before they decide to buy. Below is a quick guide to some newborn essentials and how to get them for less.

Clothing for Baby

Babies grow out of the smallest sizes very quickly – so second hand clothes can be great condition and a fraction of the price of new outfits in stores. Take into account the fact that friends and family are likely to buy outfits as gifts for a new baby.

Bundles of baby clothes can be purchased for a fraction of the shop price on auction sites such as eBay or through a local advertisement paper.

Alternatively try Freecycle where members may well donate outgrown baby clothes for free. Once baby outgrows items parents can consider selling them on eBay to bring in a little extra money to help pay for the next size

Preparing a Nursery?

The current advice from the FSID (Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths) is that babies should sleep in the same room as their parents for the first six months in order to reduce the risk of crib death. With this in mind it might be an idea to hold off decorating a room for the baby in advance.

Remember tiny babies don’t care about matching lamps and curtains – they just want to be loved and cared for. Parents can save money on nursery decoration and choose instead to spend later when the child is old enough to help with the design of his own room.

The Stroller and Car Seat

A stroller is a big investment. Parents should do their research before buying to ensure they don’t end up having to pay out a second time because their first choice doesn’t really suit their needs. Some factors to consider are:

  • The age range – can it be used for a new baby right through to a toddler?
  • The size – will it fit neatly in the boot of the car and still leave room for other baby essentials or shopping?
  • Ease of folding – does the buggy fold without too much fuss? Can it be folded one handed if the parent needs to use public transport alone?

Once parents have researched the model they like, it is worth looking on eBay or in the local advertisement paper to see if they can get it for less than the retail price. Parents who are not too picky might want to consider requesting a freebie through Freecycle or asking friends and family with older children if they might have one stashed away that could be used.

Every family needs a car seat – whether or not they own a car, as the hospital will not let new parents leave without one. Hand-me-down car seats should only be used if their history is know, parents should only accept offers from trusted friends and family – a small crash can render them unfit for further use.

Changing and Bathing

A baby bath is not an essential item; a bowl large enough to wash up in or the sink will serve well in the early days when baby is fully supported in mom or dad’s hands. A bath support for the family bath may well be a better answer as baby grows; foam ones can be purchased very cheaply from good parenting stores.

Two small bowls of water will serve as well as a dedicated “wash and rinse” bowl, while a wicker basket or plastic tray with a handle (such as those used to carry a grooming kit for adults) can be used as a bath caddy for a fraction of the price.

A changing mat is a necessity but should be relatively inexpensive. There is no need to buy a fancy changing table, as your beda kitchen or dining table will serve while baby is small, and the mat can be placed on the floor as he or she gets older.

Re-useable nappies may work out cheaper in the long run, and many local councils run schemes offering free starter kits in order to encourage this green practice.  For those who choose to go disposable, many supermarket labels are as good as the leading brands, for almost half the price in some cases.

No Need for Guilt

It is entirely possible for new parents to source all they need for a new arrival without breaking the bank. As well as shopping at eBay or Freecycle, or asking friends and family for donations of needed items, there are also numerous second hand stores to browse. Parents should also look out for offers for free samples of baby products. Families on a budget need not miss out on the experience of shopping for baby, but will end up spending much less than their pregnant peers.

You may also enjoying reading our article on Baby Essentials – The Quintessential Guide to get additional tips and ideas on planning for baby’s arrival.

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